15 Feb 2017


Potpourri 28 Comments

==> I haven’t had time to look at this, but two mathematicians claim Godel’s results prove God.

==> Federal spending grew more under Reagan and George W. Bush than under Obama.

==> This Elon Musk guy is starting to give me the creeps. When he starts work on SkyNet, we’ll know what’s up.

==> Two excellent articles on the Flynn situation: Glenn Greenwald and at Bloomberg Eli Lake.

==> BTW I assumed the GOP “blueprint” for tax reform was really long, but it’s only 35 pages, if you want to skim it.

28 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Darien says:

    Political correctness is always lame, sure, but even the Express should have enough clue to realise that “he or she” is an almost magically inappropriate term to use to refer to God.

  2. Harold says:

    On Flynn, the article says “Nobody with a straight face can claim that lying to the public is regarded in official Washington as some sort of mortal sin; if anything, the contrary is true: It’s seen as a job requirement…It’s very possible — I’d say likely — that the motive here was vindictive rather than noble. ”

    I think this lacks context. Lying might be expected, but lying about undermining foreign policy might not be expected. I am sure the motives were a bit mixed, but probably not just vindictive.

    But what should have happened? The intercepts were evidence that Flynn had committed a crime. Presumably there is a legal mechanism for this to be pursued. What would the proper legal process have been, and would this proper process have been thwarted by those in power? Or is there no mechanism to pursue this information legally?

    As for proof of God, Godel’s axioms do follow logically from his axioms (according to wikipedia). His proof “…it presupposes the notion of positive and negative properties, and proves the necessary existence of an object which each positive property, but no negative property, applies to.”

    And that is God.

    This was published after his death from notes he made, although he did approve a version of it. One of his notes I found very interesting:

    14. Religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not.

    Anyway, Wiki says “There is an ongoing open-source effort to formalize Gödel’s proof to a level that is suitable for automated theorem proving or at least computer verification via proof assistants. The effort made headlines in German newspapers. According to the authors of this effort, they were inspired by Melvin Fitting’s book.[8]” I am presuming that the newspaper article is describing the successful outcome of this (or a similar) effort.

    The open source project says “What formal logic and the automated reasoning systems based on it guarantee is that if you accept the axioms and the inference rules, then you can safely accept the proven theorems. Nothing else.”

    I am not quite sure what this means. I thought the logic of Godel’s proof was accepted anyway, if you accepted the axioms.

    • Harold says:

      Folowing up on myself about what should have happened. The intelligence agencies told the president some time ago. I presume the expected outcome is the president does something about it. If he does not then there is no further legal recourse, so leaking is the only way to get action. Is that right?

      It is the same for the wikileaks stuff I presume. The person passes on information up the chain expecting action. None happens, so there is no way to get action but to leak.

      The question arises as to ow the individual is to know if action is the appropriate response.

  3. Andrew_FL says:

    Gosh, it’s almost like Congress, rather than the President, controls how much money is spent.

    • Dan says:

      The only way that claim holds water, IMO, is if the prez is vetoing the spending, but having it overturned. Otherwise, it’s fair to blame both congress and the prez for all the spending.

      • Andrew_FL says:

        Dan, the only reason spending under Obama didn’t grow that much more than it actually did was because he was forced to compromise with Congressional Republicans.

        Under George W Bush Republicans had control of Congress from the beginning of 2003 til the beginning of 2007. From the spending level in the last quarter of 2000 (the last quarter exclusively during the Clinton Administration) til the last quarter of 2008 (the last quarter exclusively during the Bush Administration) inflation adjusted total federal spending (FRED series W019RCQ027SBEA divided by GDPDEF) increased 47.4%. 10.4 of that happened to Q4 of 2002 (ie when Democrats controlled Congress) 13.1 during the period when Republicans controlled Congress, and an additional 23.9 when Democrats once again controlled Congress. That is to say that 72% of the total spending growth under Bush happened when Democrats controlled Congress even though they controlled it for only about half his Presidency. Under Obama, spending grew in real terms by 7% of which a united Democratic Congress presided over 6 points of it, or nearly 86%.

        But sure, carry on thinking the Republicans are clearly worse on spending than the Democrats.

        • Dan says:

          Am I missing the part where you showed Bush vetoing the spending by the democrats only to have it overturned?

          • Andrew_FL says:

            “Show what I want or you don’t have a point”

            Dan you’re not a reasonable person but it was fun talking at you.

            • Dan says:

              Andrew, you made a claim. I responded by saying what I believed was the only way for that claim to hold any water. You responded without even attempting to grapple with my response, and instead just listed some of the spending under different groups of congress and attributed a position to me that I’ve never held or uttered. I ignored the nonsense you incorrectly attributed to me, and instead just pointed out that your response didn’t address my point. You responded by calling me unreasonable.

              You could’ve explained why the president never vetoing the spending bills is irrelevant, or come up with some other way of handling my objection. Just ignoring it, and calling me unreasonable for pointing out that you just ignored it, isn’t very reasonable, though.

            • Dan says:

              FYI, I actually believe democrats are worse on spending. Primarily because their base of supporters enthusiastically support it, while republican voters tend to oppose it. I don’t think most republican congressmen oppose spending on principle, or would spend less than democrats if given the chance, but they are more constrained by their supporters. Plus you’ll occasionally run into a Ron Paul on their side that actually opposes spending as s matter of principle which never seems to happen on the other side.

              Still, I think it is perfectly valid to blame the president for the spending under his watch considering he could veto it.

              • Andrew_FL says:

                “I responded by saying what I believed was the only way for that claim to hold any water.”

                And that’s total crap. I reject your premise so as I said, you are unreasonable but talking AT you was fun.

              • Dan says:

                I’m glad you had fun, and I don’t blame you for not being able to accept an obvious truth.

  4. Craw says:

    This time CIA leaks came with evidence. That I think undercuts the other recent anonymous reports we have read about where no evidence was proffered.

  5. guest says:

    Elon Musk must stay merged with government subsidies for his inefficient ideas to remain profitable:

    One View: Taxpayers keeping Elon Musk’s SolarCity afloat

    Help For Elon

  6. guest says:

    GOP Blueprint, page 15:

    “From the perspective of America’s place in the global economy, the new tax system will focus on investment in America and investment for America. The focus on business cash flow, which is a move toward a consumption-based approach to taxation, will allow the United States to adopt, for the first time in history, the same destination-based approach to taxation that has long been used by our trading partners. This will end the self-imposed unilateral penalty for exports and subsidy for imports that are fundamental flaws in the current U.S. tax system. The new tax system also will end the U.S. taxation of the worldwide income of American-based global businesses, which dates back to the first Civil War-era income tax. Under the territorial tax approach reflected in this Blueprint, for the first time American companies will be free to bring their foreign earnings home to invest in America without tax penalty. The new international tax rules also will be significantly simpler, reducing compliance burdens and the potential for controversy.”

    The GOP thinks that cheap imports and a reduced rate of exports (as such) are bad things. This is old, socialist, “protect the worker” nonsense that the US was told it was fighting against in the World Wars.

    Ron Paul had the right position on trade deficits back in 1988:

    Classic Ron Paul – 1988 Campaign Interview (part 2)

    In answer to the question, “How would you handle the trade debt”, Ron said that the only time trade deficits mean something is when you’re on an inflated paper money system.

    And that’s the only sense in which Peter Schiff is right to be concerned about America’s trade deficit, by the way. But that’s only a trade deficit in the sense that we’re not giving them anything but counterfeit paper claims in return.

    If America was using gold to pay for imports and had no exports, America would be doing just fine until we ran out of money and then we would *voluntarily* lower our gold price for our own exports. As Ron says, we’d have to go back to work if we wanted the gold back.

    No centrally planned trade policy required.

  7. Adrian Gabriel says:

    Impressively embarrassing. I voted only once in my life, and that was before I became a full-hearted Rothbardian. 2008 saw me compromising on John McCain. Much like those GOP members who feel the Republicans stand for free-markets, either because they do not know any better or simply because they don’t understand how being more radical a realistic society can exist, I made a mistake and voted. Luckily falling for the democratic candidate was something I was able to parry with simple intuition and book knowledge.

    Trump most likely will not be much different, as he has mentioned deficits are not as important as what he believes is “protecting the country.” The debt has grown year over year, and excess reserves are monstrous. This is due to what you share with those curious about Austrian economics, that being their silly central banking scheme. They’re all terrible, and I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious in any way, but voting uplifts truculence. The Bible is the voluntary law system I solely abide by.

  8. Tel says:

    I think this might be a more meaningful series to judge the burden of federal spending on the US economy as a whole.


    The Reagan years bumped around but overall fairly flat. The Clinton years sloped downward, which is good but not entirely of Clinton’s doing because that was the end of the Cold War and global outbreak of world peace. The Bush years crept back up (we were back at war again), and then of course the big “surge” of Keynesian stimulus came along right at the start of the Obama years.

    We are now roughly equivalent to where Reagan left it.

  9. Tel says:

    If someone asked me about some topic and I replied by saying, “That will get reviewed later” or something along those lines (I don’t know the exact wording)… it is NOT a discussion of the topic. Quite the opposite, it is a refusal to discuss the topic, or a polite way of bringing that topic to a close without discussion.

    Strangely enough, we have many people in Washington who are illegally in possession of transcripts of Flynn’s conversation, and also illegally leaking vague descriptions of that conversation to the news, but despite this breach of security the public at large does not have any full and original copy of that transcript. Thus, no genuine evidence exists, but merely hearsay based on sources who are clearly partisan. You would think that journalists feeling righteous about the “public right to know” would be demanding something more tangible. This is as weak as the whole “Putin hacking” garbage. These so called “leakers” can’t even do that job properly.

    For that matter, I personally don’t even see this as a matter of great public significance. When Hillary lied about Benghazi and pretended it was a “protest” in response to some movie on the Internet, this was a really significant event, people died and there were international repercussions. Flynn merely mentions the bleeding obvious: that a new President will be coming soon and all discussions need to be deferred until that time (which is why he was there in the first place, scheduling a phone call).

    I would guess that Trump got rid of Flynn at least partly for some other reasons, partly because he doesn’t need the distraction and can’t be bothered expending the effort to defend him when there’s plenty of available replacements.

    As for this matter that people obey the law whenever they feel like it… well if you are convinced your cause is good and just then do your leaking and break the law, but also be willing to accept the consequences. That’s always been how it works. Manning got consequences, Assange got consequences, Snowden got consequences and I hope the current crop of Washington leakers also discover there’s consequences. The existence of consequences is the thing that tests whether someone really believes in what they are doing, or merely thinks they can get away with something convenient at the time.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I largely agree with your thoughts here, Tel.

    • Harold says:

      It strikes me as slightly odd that you condemn leaking as illegal and demand consequences, yet you brush aside private discussion of foreign policy, which is also illegal, as insignificant.

      There are always justifications for what we see as the right thing. The important thing (for an honest truth seeker) is to try to retain a balanced view.

      One could easily express it the other way. Leaking important information that the partisan president is refusing to act on is fully justified, but undermining the president by negotiating with foreign powers is clearly wrong.

      As you say, we don’t have a full transcript. We don’t know exactly what was said. We don’t know the involvement of Russia with Trump campaign. It may all turn out to be insignificant, but it seems to me that to declare it so at the moment, together with declaring the Russian hacking as garbage, is a clear indication of bias.

      • Tel says:

        What negotiation with foreign powers? Seriously what?

        Flynn was sent to schedule a phone call for future discussion. The other guy started asking about sanctions, and Flynn said that Trump would review this later and that sanctions would come up for discussion.

        What was he supposed to say? In what way did he negotiate anything?

        • Craw says:

          Patience, thy name is Tel.

          Aside from anything else, as you note, it is negotiating that is a possible legal issue, not “discussing”.

        • Harold says:

          Tel, how do you know what was said between Flynn and the Russians? Why did Flynn mislead Pence about the content of the calls?

          I don’t know the answers, but to dismiss it as insignificant without further investigation suggests that you are happy to accept the most charitable version without question.

          I try to avoid confirmation bias. For example, much as I hate Trump I think he may be on to something with regard to ISIS. ISIS are a big threat, and Assad is not such a big threat. Maybe get together with Russia and Assad and ISIS could be quickly defeated in Syria. Obama’s policies have led to a tragedy in Syria. Clinton could not easily have reversed those policies has she won. Trump can. We end up with an Assad regime, which is far from ideal, but surely better than what we have today.

          I think accepting the Trump camps version of what happened between Flynn and Russia unquestioningly is an example of confirmation bias. You have some evidence that backs up your belief and you are happy to leave it at that. This seems to happen a lot with Trump related discussions.

          • Ken P says:

            Did you read the articles Harold? Like most articles out there, paraphrasing of the convo is that he said they could discuss sanctions later which is not really even discussing.

            If someone is going to leak a phone call they should provide the words instead of leaving it to speculation. If not then the motive is obviously not to provide info or clarity.

            I found both articles to be insightful.

          • Tel says:

            I don’t know exactly what was said, because the real transcript of the conversation has not been released to the public. Here’s a quote of what I wrote above (and what you are replying to):

            Strangely enough, we have many people in Washington who are illegally in possession of transcripts of Flynn’s conversation, and also illegally leaking vague descriptions of that conversation to the news, but despite this breach of security the public at large does not have any full and original copy of that transcript.

            That means, in terms of tangible first-hand real evidence against Flynn, there is none. However, we do have some articles making accusations, and even within the context of those accusations… they still don’t have anything remotely resembling a case against Flynn.

            Why did he resign?

            I really don’t know, everyone is speculating, but I’m sure there’s at least one piece of the puzzle missing and it has nothing to do with Flynn negotiating about sanctions with the Russians.

            FWIW here’s a ZH article saying exactly the same thing, so I’m not the only one.


            I have so many issues with the above reporting it’s hard to know where to start. Everything mentioned above is given to us secondhand via “anonymous American officials.” Nowhere do I see any specific quotes from the transcript, despite the fact that the paper admits it talked with federal officials who read it. Why not? Why must we hear about the content of the transcripts secondhand from anonymous officials? This is the most significant red flag with this whole story. If the leakers were truly interested in transparency, and wanted the public to know the truth, why not leak the transcript to Wikileaks and let the public decide?

            I’ll tell you why. They didn’t do this because transparency was never the goal here. They wanted to illegally use intelligence information to take a scalp from a Trump administration they hate, and they knew they could do this via mainstream media journalists.

            • Harold says:

              Tel, you say: “The other guy started asking about sanctions, and Flynn said that Trump would review this later and that sanctions would come up for discussion.
              What was he supposed to say? In what way did he negotiate anything?”

              We don’t know this is what happened. We don’t know what else was said. You say this as though you did know, which to me is a sign of confirmation bias.

  10. Major-Freedom says:

    Re: Godel proof of God:

    From the article:

    “The point of the researchers’ argument was that they were not directly trying to prove the existence of God, but rather to showcase the power of computers.”

    Seems like a clickbait article…

    • Harold says:

      MF, it does seem to be a real thing.
      I am not sure what they are trying to do.

      Any proof only follows from he axioms, so accepting the proof is not he same as accepting the reality of god.

      From wiki: “This is particularly applicable to Gödel’s proof, because it rests on five axioms that are all questionable. The proof does not say that the conclusion has to be correct, but rather that if you accept the axioms, then the conclusion is correct.”

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